HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Bible Wines or the Laws of Fermentation and Wines of the Ancients
Author: William Patton
Publisher: Star Bible and Tract Corporation, republished 1976
Related website: https://starbible.com/ (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Patton, William. Bible Wines or the Laws of Fermentation and Wines of the Ancients
(originally published in 1874 by the New York Temperance Society; republished in 1976 by Star Bible, Ft. Worth, TX 76118). The purpose of author William Patton, a nineteenth century minister, in producing this book was to collect and arrange the facts and arguments, under their appropriate heads, so as to facilitate the investigation and to produce the clearest and firmest conviction. His simple aim was to present this important subject in a manner so plain that all readers of the Bible may understand what his convictions of its teachings on the subject of temperance were, and particularly the wine question. Basically, he shows from ancient literature that people in Bible days did have ways of preserving fresh grape juice and then argues that when the word wine is used in the Bible positively it refers to an unfermented beverage, but when it is mentioned negatively it means an alcoholic drink. This is sometimes called the “Two Wine Theory.”
Bible Wines has nothing to do with how to make wines like they did in the Bible. It seems that nearly everyone who objects to the book, the majority of whom I assume would justify social drinking, cites two previous articles by John McLean in the April and October, 1841, issues of the Princeton Review which supposedly refuted the theory thoroughly. The objection is that Patton begins with false “facts” about fermentation. I have even heard people who are supposed to be New Testament Christians pooh-poohing his book. However, my question is why should we accept McLean’s assertions uncritically while rejecting Patton’s claims out of hand? In fact, one critic admitted that MacLean concluded, “That in treating of wines, these writers have mentioned modes of preserving the juice of the grape other than by fermenting it, we without the least hesitation admit; and that this unfermented juice, whether inspissated (thickened by boiling) or not, was sometimes used as a drink, we do not question.”
That “fact” which even McLean admits is primarily what Patton based his thesis upon. McLean’s primary object seemed to have been to prove that “in reference to wine, which the Saviour made the symbol of his shed blood, in the most sacred rite of his holy religion, they assert that it is a thing condemned of God and injurious to men.” So, it just boils down to a disagreement as to how the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English words for “wine” were used in ancient times and in the Bible. I still think that Patton’s argumentation is essentially correct and deserves all due consideration. The book was reprinted in 1976 and again in 1981 by Star Bible Publishers of Ft. Worth, TX. It does not currently appear on their website. However, it has also been republished by Kessinger Publishing LLC (2003), Book Jungle (2007), and BiblioLife (2009).